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It’s Holiday Season again, and in keeping with past Holiday Seasons, here’s this year’s email game. This one is based on the classic “Shut the Box” but with an email delivery theme. We’ve modified the rules slightly to reflect aspects of email marketing and we’ve added a rule that simulates the difficulty of getting email delivered during the holiday season. It’s a very easy game to play and lots of fun. Enjoy!
Email Game

Rules

Players: Can be played by any number of players but will require additional printouts for more than two players. It may also be played as a solitaire game in which the player tries to beat their own score.

Requirements: Two dice.

Object: To get the most emails delivered. The winner is the person with the fewest remaining undelivered emails at the end of a round.

Before you begin: Print out the game, then cut out the player cards and the individual “Delivered” tags. Each player should have one player card and ten “Delivered” tags.

Start: Players choose who goes first by rolling one die. The player with the highest die roll goes first.
The first player rolls both dice and covers the numbered envelopes with the Delivered tags so that the total number on the covered emails matches the number on their dice roll. They may cover any number of envelopes as long as the total matches their roll. For example, if a player rolls a three and a six, they may cover the #9 envelope or cover smaller numbers to total nine (e.g., 5 + 4, 2+3+4, etc.).
It is then the next player’s turn to roll.

A player’s game ends when they cannot make any more moves. For example: If the player rolls a two and a four, but none of the remaining envelopes can be marked delivered to make a total of six (e.g., 2,5,7,8,9) that signals the end of their game. If the other player(s) can still roll and deliver emails, they continue until they have no moves left.

Scoring: At the end of their rounds, when no player can deliver any more emails, the players total the number of the envelope that has not been delivered. The player with the lowest score wins that round.

NOTE: In some versions of the game, the total number of points left are added to determine the score, but the goal here is to get the most email delivered, so the points don’t matter as much. A player who only had the #10 email left undelivered (total = 1) has a better score than the player who has the #1 and #2 emails left undelivered (total = 2).

Optional Holiday rule: From Thanksgiving until Christmas, getting your email delivered is notoriously more difficult. Mail that got through in October suddenly is landing in the bulk folder as the Holiday Season nears. To simulate this effect, we’ve created the Holiday rule. If you play the game using this rule, after you’ve finished your move the player on your right (or opposite player if two are playing) has the option of removing the delivered tag from one of your delivered emails. Using this rule does increase the strategic potential of the game.

A couple years ago, as a gift to our readers for the holidays, we offered The Email Game, a simple luck-based game that also served as an instructional tool for learning what to do, and what not to do when sending out your mailings. This year we’re back with a game we call Spam Attacks, based on the subscription bomb attacks that plagued ESPs everywhere in late 2016. The game is a dice and board game similar to Backgammon where each player moves from opposite points on the board and landing on an opponent’s piece will send it back to the beginning (or, in this case, into the Blacklist area). unlike the previous game, this you can win this game with strategy, although a certain amount of chance will still keep things exciting. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

Email Gameboard
Pieces:

Playing pieces

How to Play:

Before you begin: Print out the game board and playing pieces (envelopes and bombs). Cut out the six playing pieces separately. You will also need a standard, six-sided die.

Number of players: Two. Each player has three pieces
These are designated as the Email Marketer and the Spam Attacker. The Email Marketer uses the three envelope pieces. These are referred to as emails. The Spam Attacker uses the bomb pieces. These are referred to as spam attacks.

Object: For the Email Marketer, it is to get at least one of their emails delivered before all three are blacklisted. An email is considered delivered when it successfully moves off the playing board. For the Spam Attacker, it is to get all three of the Email Marketer’s emails blacklisted before they can be delivered. The Spam Attacker causes an email to be blacklisted by landing on the square occupied by an email. That email is then sent to the bottom of the blacklist (the square labeled “Blacklisted!”). The Email Marketer must restart the journey for that piece from that point. The first player to achieve their objective wins the game.

Rules:

The Email Marketer begins their journey around the game board by placing a piece on the square in the upper left corner of the board (labeled with a ►), They then move their pieces clockwise around the board to the finish line. The Spam Attacker starts by placing a piece in the square in the lower left corner (labeled with a star) and initially moving counterclockwise. The spam player pieces cannot leave the board once they are in play, nor can the enter the blacklist area. If a spam attack piece reaches either end of the playing area, it continues its journey back in the opposite direction. The Email Marketer may only move forward in a counterclockwise direction. They do not need an exact count to leave the playing area. The Spam Attacker can move in either direction, so it’s possible for the Spam Attacker to double back and tag a piece they have already past.

Each player can decide at what point they wish to add each piece to the playing field. If they have more than one piece in play, they can choose which piece they want to move next. They can only move one piece with each die toss, but they must move one of their pieces with each toss.

Safety Zones: There are three Safety Zones on the board (labeled with the Goolara rings). The Spam attacker cannot land on these squares. The Spam Attacker must jump over them in their move counts. The Email Marketer can land on these squares, and can keep a piece on one of the these squares as long as they want. Two emails cannot occupy the same Safety Zone. If an envelope lands on Safety Zone that is already occupied, the second piece must move to the next square after the Safety Zone. The email marketer can, however, create a temporary Safety Zone by placing two pieces in the same square (see Special Cases).

Winning the game: The Email Marketer wins the game when at least one of their pieces moves off the board. The Spam Attacker wins if they get all three of the Email Marketer’s pieces in the blacklist area.

Special Cases: If the only move an Email Marketer can make causes that piece to land on a Spam Attacker’s piece, the Email Marketer cannot move and loses that turn. If the Email Marketer has two pieces on the same square, that square becomes a safety zone as long as two pieces of email occupy it, and the Spam Attacker cannot land on it.

Variation: The game can be played with four players: Three Email Marketers and one Spam Attacker. Each player must move on their turn, so the Safety Zones offer limited protection. Play continues until one of the Email Marketers has successfully moved their piece off the board. The first player to do so wins the game. The Spam Attacker wins if they manage to get all three players in the blacklist area.


Special kudos to Sabine Kroschel of Pixaline for her lovely background image.

The Holiday Season is upon us, so we thought it might be fun to offer an infographic in the form a simple game of chance. Of course, your email marketing efforts should be anything but a game of chance. Careful planning, design, and testing will go a long ways toward improving your open rates. Keeping aware of your metrics and avoiding quick fixes, such as list purchasing, will keep your deliverability out of the red zone.

emailgame

You can find more on information on the topics listed in the Email Game in the following blog posts and in the guides and white papers in the Resources section of the main website:
The Complete Preheaders and Snippets Tutorial
Personalizing Your Email Marketing
Using Content Blocks and Dynamic Content
Deliverability Enhanced (downloadable white paper)
Oops! – Handling and resolving email marketing mistakes (downloadable white paper)
Using Text & Images (downloadable guide)
Best Practices Enhanced – Vol. 1: Content, List Management, and Testing (downloadable guide)
Best Practices Enhanced – Vol. 2: Design and Image Management (downloadable guide)
Responsive Email Design (downloadable guide)